Light Rail

I never realized how nice it can be to travel by train.  It’s loads easier than flying, cheaper, and generally less stressful.  It's also a great way to see the countryside between major cities!  On our Italy trip we ended up taking six trains (3 round trips).  We took trains between Malpensa/Milan, Milan/Florence, and Florence/Pisa.  In Sri Lanka we took the train at least 5 times, but it was much less awesome than Italy.

Visiting three different cities wouldn’t have been possible if Italy didn’t have light rail because renting a car would have been more work, more money, require more focus and we would have had to try and park!  We also undoubtedly would have gotten lost along the way, which does not lead to happy travels.  With the train, we simply bought our tickets (online or at the station), found the train, got on, and vegged until we arrived at our destination.  No security hassles, long lines, or boarding procedures were required!

Sri Lanka was the polar opposite of Italy.  The rail system is pretty old and quite slow.  Almost every train we took was over crowded and in some, we didn't even get seats for most of the trip.  We ended up sitting on the floor/standing for nearly five hours of a seven hour train ride.  It was also harder to find our way around the stations to our trains because none of the announcements were in English.  Despite these challenges, the trains were incredibly cheap, authentic, and had amazing views, but I'm pretty sure hiring a driver would have been more enjoyable.

I know the US in in a budget crisis of sorts now, but expanded light rail in the US would definitely improve the overall public transportation system.  How is it that we can get around in Cairo, Milan, Florence, Pisa, and can moderately suffer through Sri Lanka without cars, but can’t imagine living in the US without one?  Somewhere along the line, our priorities have gotten out of whack.